SUGAR GROVE – The Kaneland School Board Monday approved a raise for Superintendent Jeff Schuler, pushing his base salary up to $175,000 from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014.
His 2011 contract was amended and runs through June 2016. In the second and third year of the contract, his salary is scheduled to increase over the prior year’s salary by no more than 3 percent or at the rate of inflation based on the annual Consumer Price Index.
According to school district documents, Schuler made a base salary of $158,525 in the 2011-2012 school year. Documents show that he made $11,000 in annuities and $44,000 in other benefits that year.
His new contract includes annuity contributions of $10,000, $11,000 and $12,000 each year from 2014 through 2016, respectively.
Kaneland’s staff continues to work under a salary freeze from the 2010-2011 school year.
The board voted 6-1 to approve the raise.
Board member Tony Valente voted against the raise, saying that if Schuler received a raise of about 11 percent each year like he did this year, he would be making a base salary of about $1.4 million in 20 years.
“I think this is an astronomical raise,” he said. “I’d like to give this back to our children who need technology, who need buses.”
Board member Joe Oberweis pointed out that Schuler gave up $15,000 over the past three years and accepted a contribution package that was less than what he was contractually able to take. He said Valente was “sensationalizing” when he came up with the $1.4 million number, and he reiterated that the board was making a one-time adjustment to Schuler’s contract.
“There are difficult decisions that have to be made,” he said. “If we want to retain talent, we have no choice.”
Other board members praised Schuler’s efforts.
“I’ve seen some superintendents that I wasn’t very happy with,” board member Elmer Gramley said. “I’m happy with Jeff Schuler, and I want to keep him.”
Board member Teresa Witt said she doesn’t want the Kaneland School District to be a training ground for other school’s superintendents in the future, which is why the raise was important. She listed several district accomplishments since Schuler has been hired, including successful contract talks with the Kaneland Education Association, expanded professional development opportunities and his constant evaluation of staffing needs.
Witt also pointed out that Schuler met or exceeded expectations in every category after a recent evaluation.
Valente said taxes are up, and reading and math scores haven’t improved, which he said was another reason he voted against the contract.
“The numbers are the numbers,” he said. “We need to do what’s best for our community tax-wise and what’s best for our children.”